I ought to begin by saying that I’m a fan of the NRL first and solely an informal fan of AFL, so all of that is from a relative outsider’s perspective, however since a part of the rationale for the existence of the AFLX is to transform individuals like me, I really feel I’m in a superb place to remark.
Once I was a child some representatives got here to my college and I ended up signing up for AFL Auskick. A modified model of the sport performed on a smaller discipline was the proper option to get children like me enjoying the sport in my small Queensland city that solely had grounds for the rugby codes and soccer. I aged out of it and ended up enjoying rugby league, and I assist the 13-man sport to this present day, however these few years with an Aussie Guidelines ball in my fingers again within the early 2000s – together with the Lions successful grand closing after grand closing – are why I nonetheless have a fluctuating curiosity within the AFL in spite of everything these years.
Once I first heard concerning the AFLX, I assumed it was genius. I listened to the fellows on NRL360 discuss concerning the hazard it introduced to the NRL and grassroots rugby league, however I used to be excited. The most important risk to the NRL is its personal complacency – that’s an article for one more time – not the AFL. Not solely would the competitors with rugby league be good, however I may additionally get some cool footy to look at.
Sadly, after what I simply sat by, I don’t assume rugby league has something to fret about. Clearly there could be rising pains after the primary 12 months, however the second version felt like a step backwards. Growing an oblong model of the sport and enjoying it over one evening solely at an oval stadium in Melbourne is simply pointless. The 23,000 that confirmed up this 12 months would match proper in throughout city at AAMI Park, a stadium really designed for this type of sport.
For higher or worse, that is the format to make a push up right here in Queensland and New South Wales, however it could possibly’t do something if it’s not even right here. The all star-ish nature of the groups is a step in the correct route from final 12 months because it offers individuals the chance to see the perfect gamers the game has to supply whatever the type of the native group – if there even is one or in the event that they assist them.
Right here in Queensland, for instance, the Lions and the Suns aren’t precisely a shining commercial for the AFL, however bringing the perfect of the perfect right here? Lots of people would depart their houses for that. I’d go to Suncorp Stadium for that. I do know interstate crowds weren’t that nice final 12 months, but it surely was a begin, and with just a few enhancements to the merchandise it will solely have grown from there.
The most important downside, although, isn’t that the sport isn’t right here; it’s what has develop into of the sport itself. The rationale I’m in favour of a smaller groups on an oblong discipline is that I firmly consider that measurement of the bottom or the groups doesn’t matter; you play wherever you’ll be able to with whoever you’ll be able to. Auskick is miles aside from the AFL when it comes to gameplay, but it surely’s nonetheless basically soccer. Shedding a grand closing by 17 factors as a result of the opposite group’s ‘Gatorade sport changer’ kicked a 20-point objective is just not. If the intention is to get sports activities followers who aren’t essentially AFL followers to care, this type of stuff is just not the best way to do it.
As I stated, that is excellent to maneuver into different areas, however nonetheless you modify the sport, it nonetheless needs to be soccer that you simply’re bringing, not a circus.
On one facet now we have the argument that soccer is ideal as it’s and doesn’t have to be modified. On the opposite facet, the AFLX apparently has to have all of the loopy guidelines to justify its personal existence. The reality and actuality is someplace within the center. Footy may be performed wherever there’s some grass, from the MCG to my yard, 18 on 18 or three on three, however you don’t have to arrange a circus tent within the course of.